Canadian hospital deaths down

Dec. 8, 2011 at 11:28 PM

OTTAWA, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A public health emergency, more funds and an emphasis on patient safety have resulted in fewer preventable deaths at half of Canada's hospitals, officials say.

Officials at the Canadian Institute for Health Information said 53 percent of Canadian hospitals have experienced a significant drop in their mortality ratios since the organization began tracking results seven years ago, Postmedia News reported.

Kira Leeb, director of health system performance at CIHI, said hospital mortality rates began to be collected around the time of the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, a public health emergency that demonstrated how rapidly communicable diseases can spread throughout a hospital.

As a result, there was heightened awareness of infection control measures as basic as hand-washing and other infections control procedures.

Also, a federal-provincial health accord was signed, returning resources that had been taken out of the healthcare system in the 1990s, Leeb said.

Hospitals adopted new procedures such as surgical checklists -- similar to those completed by pilots before takeoff. Surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologists go through a set of safety checks before operating, which

"have proven to be hugely effective in reducing adverse events," said Pamela Fralick, president of the Canadian Health Care Association, a federation of provincial and territorial hospital and health organizations.

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